updated 9/26/2006 9:29:02 AM ET 2006-09-26T13:29:02

A hiker slid to his death after losing his footing on an Alaska glacier near a popular tourist destination, authorities said.

John Roggenkamp, 27, was dead by the time searchers found him in a deep chasm on Byron Glacier late Sunday night. Roggenkamp, who lived in the nearby ski resort community of Girdwood, had been climbing with a friend when he slid down a 30-degree slope for at least 200 feet, then fell 60 feet into the crevasse.

Trooper Sgt. Bill Welch said Roggenkamp was wearing crampons for traction, so it’s not clear how the accident occurred at the 1,100-foot level of Byron Peak, about 45 miles southeast of Anchorage.

“The blue ice there is really shiny and polished and slippery,” Welch said Monday. “He either tripped or fell or a crampon came off. That’s what we think happened at this point.”

Troopers reached the Byron Glacier Trailhead just before 6 p.m. Sunday.

They dispatched a helicopter, dropping off members of the Alaska Mountain Rescue Group where it was safe to land. Rescuers then worked their way across the glacier, reaching the crevasse shortly after 10 p.m., Welch said.

Many climbers took advantage of the sunny, balmy day and hiked near Byron Glacier on Sunday, said Matt Szundy, an Anchorage-based mountain guide. He remembered seeing Roggenkamp and Morrill at about 4:30 p.m. heading onto the glacier. They were well-equipped with crampons, ice axes, helmets and packs.

Szundy said he was familiar with Roggenkamp, who worked at a Girdwood coffee shop, but didn’t know how experienced a climber he was. But even for savvy climbers, conditions this time of year present a challenge to Byron’s already rugged approach, he said.

“The glacier is not very covered with snow, so the ice is very exposed,” Szundy said. “It makes for easier travel, but if you lose your footing, you can slide a pretty long way.”

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